By Rich Dubroff
After Stephen Strasburg’s MRI on his left side, a strained oblique was found, and the Nationals placed him on the 15-day disabled list.
Strasburg, who left Saturday’s game with two outs in the fourth inning complaining about tightness in his left side, would miss one start before the All-Star break. He’d be eligible to pitch in the fourth game after the break, on July 20, if everything went well.
“It’s something we’ve got to do for his health and well-being and make sure we get him well as quickly as possible,” manager Matt Williams said.
Strasburg had allowed one hit in his start, and said after the game he felt tightness when Buster Posey grounded out for the second out of the fourth.
“It’s unfortunate because he felt good and he was pitching great,” Williams said. “As you go through games, you feel something and then it can go away and it never comes back, but that one didn’t go away, so he felt it on the very next pitch.”
It’s Strasburg’s second stint on the DL this season. He was sidelined from May 30-June 23 with neck tightness.
“He’s disappointed about it, and so are we. It’s part of the game. We have to get him back healthy and going as quickly as we can, making sure that he’s 100 percent ready to go when he comes back,” Williams said.
Williams didn’t say how severe the strain was or offer an opinion when Strasburg might return.
“Everybody’s different,” Williams said. “We know that it’s 15, and we’ll do what we can in those 15 to see where we’re at. We went through it the last time he went on the DL to make sure that he’s fully ready, so we’ll see. It reacts differently with everybody. Fifteen days from now we’ll have a better answer, I know that.”
Strasburg, who is 5-5 with a 5.16 ERA, had pitched better in the three starts he made since initially coming off the disabled list.
He was 2-0, and allowed two runs on nine hits in 15 2/3 innings.
“There’s a difference between him not being able to do things when he’s on the field and this because something’s bothering him, and this. This is something that he just can’t pitch with,” Williams said. “The way he was throwing the ball since he came off [the disabled list] was really good. We’ll get him healthy and see where we can go.”
Taylor Jordan, who is 1-8 with a 4.81 ERA in 16 big leagues appearances over the last three seasons, has been recalled from Triple-A Syracuse. Williams didn’t definitively say that Tanner Roark, who relieved Strasburg and worked 4 2/3 innings on Saturday, would take his place in the rotation.
The Nationals’ rotation for the next three games against Cincinnati features Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Gio Gonzalez. Strasburg’s next turn would be Friday against the Orioles in Baltimore, but there’s an off day on Thursday and just three games for the four-day All-Star break.
“We can adjust if need be, depending on where we’re at,” Williams said. “Right now all we now is the Reds series.”
Williams could choose to go with four starters and have Scherzer get an additional start next Sunday, which would also take him out of consideration for an appearance in the All-Star Game.
The Nationals would like Scherzer to pitch for them as often as possible.
“Of course we do. He’s the guy that started Opening Day for us,” Williams said. “There’s many factors that do into that. How he comes out of the next start, going into the break, where the other guys are, given the off day, there’s a bunch of factors. As we get closer, we’ll determine, but he could potentially start on Sunday as well.”
NOTES: Aaron Barrett (bicep) threw 16 pitches in his second appearance for Potomac on Saturday night. Williams said the plan is for him to pitch again on Monday. He must pitch on consecutive days before he can be activated. … Ryan Zimmerman (left foot) was scheduled for work in the batting cage. “The last step is running,” Williams said. “We’ll get him to that point at some point. … Anthony Rendon (quad) is hitting in the batting cage, but hasn’t begun to run. “We’re still very early in that process,” Williams said. … Jayson Werth (wrist) swung a fungo bat on Saturday. “He’s itching to get going again,” Williams said. “The last part of that is getting a regular bat in his hands, so that will happen quickly. By all indications, he’s well on the road to recovery at this point.”